As writers it can sometimes be hard to get going, especially when there is no one there to tell you what to do or when to start. As a writer you have to motivate yourself, you have to get your creative juices flowing on your own. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use techniques to aid you in doing just that. In fact, many writers use writing exercises to help them come up with story ideas, characters, what to write next, etc… While all writers are different and no one method will work for everyone, there are hundreds of different writing exercises and one is sure to work for you. Here are several exercises that myself or other writers I know use, they might also be able to help you stimulate your creativity and hone your writing skills.
1. Try keeping a journal. Describe your day, activities, how you feel, things you’ve seen. You can try and use detail and adjectives as much as possible to hone your descriptive skills. Be creative with it and have fun. However, your journal doesn’t have to be a typical journal of what happened during the day or how you feel about things. Try keeping a journal of your dreams. When you wake up write down everything you can remember. This can really help you to describe things and can contribute to story ideas or characterization. This is one of my favorite activities and really contributes to building stories, ideas, and skills.
2. Complete a character questionnaire. When you can’t think of anything to write, write about your character. Answer some questions addressing deeper issues about your character. Write about their past, their present, their interactions with others or lack thereof, their possessions, their passions, their hopes, dreams, and goals. Write about their state of mind. Answering questions about your character, or about a character you’d like to write about, can help you to contribute to your story later on. You gain a better understanding of your character, you stimulate interest in your character, you practice your writing skills, and might even come up with a great idea of how to implement some of those new ideas into your story.
3. Set up fictional and/or nonfiction scenarios from which to stimulate writing. For example, choose a random situation and begin writing there. Something as simple as “I was walking down the street when…” can help you to get your creative juices working for you. You can put other characters in real life situations you’ve encountered, or place them or yourself in a dream spot like Paris, London, Kyoto, or any destination you’d like to go. Take your favorite film and write using that setting. Just any situation that will help you to stimulate some creativity.
4. Look up some random artwork or look to artwork around your home. Now describe each piece of artwork. Describe it in detail or make up a story about it. Put a character in the picture. Make up meaning for the colors in the picture. Think of the artist (make this up, it doesn’t have to be real), think of how they felt painting the picture, what was going through their mind, how was it inspired? Write all these things down. Before you know it you’ve developed a short story and gotten some great mind stimulating practice.
5. Choose an emotion or strong feeling you’ve felt or are intrigued by. Describe that feeling in as many situations and as many ways as possible. Illustrate the feeling without actually stating what it is. This can really help in developing descriptive skills when dealing with emotion or other tough situations to describe. This is an extremely important exercise when you’re looking to write about sensitive situations or stories that are high on emotion.
The rules for using these exercises are simple; you must set a time limit to abide by. Set it for 10-15 minutes when you first sit down to write and don’t go over. If the timer rings just stop, it doesn’t matter where you are. These exercises are meant as just that, exercises. They are meant to enhance and develop your writing, but not take it over. To help with your writers block you might also want to find a place to write away from the desk for a change in scenery, try working on two or three projects at a time so that you have something to fall back on. Of course there are many other options for overcoming your block, but these exercises and tips are a great place to start. Get back into your writing by stimulating that creativity that made you start in the first place.